Light show for Hingham's special lady

The floodlights were switched on at St Andrew's Church in Hingham yesterday to mark the 100th birthday of one of the town's most popular and well-known residents.

The floodlights were switched on at St Andrew's Church in Hingham yesterday to mark the 100th birthday of one of the town's most popular and well-known residents.

Former hospital matron Ruth Combe, a member of a prominent Norfolk farming family, the Harrisons, lived in Hingham, first in Hall Lane and later in Rectory Gardens, for nearly 50 years.

She walked to church each Sunday and was a familiar sight around the town, walking to do her own shopping even at the age of 99.

It was only earlier this year that she decided to move to the Crown Rest Home at Little Dunham, where yesterday Mrs Combe sipped a glass of Champagne with staff, residents and guests at a party laid on in her honour.


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It came two days after a family birthday party at Little Witchingham attended by the vast majority of her 80-odd nephews and nieces, great nephews and nieces and great-great nephews and nieces.

Ruth Harrison was born the sixth of ten children in the Norfolk village of Garvestone in 1908 - the year Herbert Asquith became prime minister, London hosted the Olympic Games and suffragettes Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel were jailed for conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace.

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The Harrison family moved to Scarning and she embarked on a nursing career, which saw her caring for Second World War wounded at Guy's in London and hospitals in Kent. Mrs Combe later became matron of hospitals in Spilsby, Lincolnshire, and Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Asked - as she often is - the reason for her longevity, she replied: “There's no real secret. Just luck - and never having a serious illness.”

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